tv At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan CNN December 23, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PST
all right. top of the hour now. john berman here. kate bolduan off today. breaking news. president-elect donald trump release add personal letter received from the russian president vladimir putin offering his warmest christmas and new year's greetings, also talking about a much-improved relationship he hoped takes place. this comes just hours after the president-elect said, let there be an arms race. both president-elect trump and president putin have vowed to strengthen and expand their countries' nuclear capabilities.
boris sanchez joins me from palm beach, florida, near trump's mar-a-lago resort. boris a lot going on this morning. >> reporter: yes. certainly a rapid fire series of responses from both trump, his team and russian leader vladimir putin. just in the past hour or so a look at the letter vladimir putin sent to donald trump today expressing a deep desire for bilateral work to be done between the united states and russia when it came to a series of diplomatic issues around the world. trump then put out his response and he writes in part, "a very nice letter from vladimir putin. his thoughts are so correct. i hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts and we do not have to travel an ultimate path." the language at the end there, fascinating. especially when you consider the rhetoric from trump just about 24 hours ago in that tweet you mentioned that he put out, specifically talking about expanding american nuclear
capabilities. initially the trump camp came out and said that he was talking about nonproliferation and keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorist organizations and rogue actors. and then this morning you heard that comment from him saying, "let there be an arms race" and shortly after that we actually had sean spicer, the current spokesman for the rnc, soon to be donald trump's press secretary on "new day "atalking about what donald trump meant by those comments. listen to that exchange now. >> he is going to do what it takes to protect this country and if another country or countries want to threaten our safety or sovereignty he's going to do what it takes. >> sure, but he's not waiting until another country threaten us. he's making these proclamations before. >> right, but making it very clear that other countries and other companies. you've seen with carrier and others, he's going to make it clear he will be an active that will get things done.
>> use nuclear weapons if need be? >> he's not going to sit back. send a clear and concise message which has he done she a flaed will defend america's interests and america's people. >> reporter: important to point out trump's tweet came out on the heels of russian president putin saying russians wanted to enhance their own nuclear capabilities. overnight, sort of a state of the union press conference was asked about trump's tweet and the relationship with the united states. he said trump's comments on nukes was nothing new and added that relations between the united states and russia could not be worse. john? >> all right. boris sanchez, outside mar-a-lago in florida. thanks a lot. now to moscow and fwling our senior international correspondent matthew chance, there covering events. matthew, we just got a look at this letter sent to donald trump
last week by russian president vladimir putin. vladimir putin wants to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation. key word, restore, and bring collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level. that means more, different, better. interesting to read that. >> reporter: yes. it was. and i think this, this is totally in line with how the kremlin has been viewing donald trump since early on in his campaign. he was always sort of perceived as being the kremlin candidate. he was always somebody that spoke sympathetically about the russian world view and always somebody that the russian media, you know, supported and the russian media here are controlled by the kremlin and they're a conduit for what the kremlin really thinks, and it all contrasts sfas s starkly, t letter and tone's it, reaching out to donald trump with the way an epic press conference lasting four hours, one of his annual
set events, contrasts with the way he speaks about the current u.s. administration. the obama presidency. he said about them, that the current administration always tries to find a scapegoat for its failings, referring to the allegation that russia had its thumb on the scale in the presidential election. the democrats, he said, lost the presidency. the senate and the house of representatives. am i to blame for that? he asked the audience of 1,400 journalists that gathered there. is russia responsible for everything? if you lose, you should lose with dignity. those kinds of vicious remarks really underlined how much animosity there is at the moment between the kremlin and the white house, and that letter which was sent on december 15th, only just within the past few minutes, really, been made public, underlines, you know, the new relationship that the kremlin and vladimir putin wraunts wants to have with incoming president donald trump. >> indeed, the nature of this letter, the more congenial tones, perhaps the new
relationship we expected, the new relationship we might not have been expecting, matthew, a back and forth over nuclear arms with both the president-elect and the russian leader talking in their own way about expanding capabilities? >> reporter: yes, they're both nuclear superpowers and obviously they've both been concerns with modernizing their arsenals for various, different reasons, as a matter of fact. it's not clear to me, and, of course, i wasn't party to this conversation, but it's not clear to me that donald trump when he made these remarks was specifically referring to an arms race, a new arms race with russia. it was my impression, could be wrong about this, he was talking in general other countries that want to develop nuclear weapons or build up nuclear arsenals. an arms race with them and the united states could win. certainly from the russian point of view, russia has, you know -- putin has put to one side and downplayed the significance of those remarks. take a listen what he had to say as that epic press conference
earlier on today. >> t >> translator: the technical nuclear arms are updated. are modernizedaccelerates the arms race, it's not us. >> reporter: president trump went on to say he doesn't regard, paraphrasing, doesn't regard the united states as an aggressor. >> no. it is interesting, matthew. a great point. sometimes we don't know how to infer what donald trump means, particularly on twitter. just 140 characters and left open to interpretation, and interpretation can be potentially dangerous when talking about nuclear capabilities. hence the 24-hour discussion back and forth. great you have both with us. joined by international security analyst jim walsh along with cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr. guys, let me ask you, not about the back and forth on nuclear weapons exactly. not about the vladimir putin
letter we were just talking about, but, jim, if i can, let me ask you about the donald trump response to this letter which i will now read out loud. a very nice letter from vladimir putin. his thoughts are so correct. i hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alter knit path. quote/unquote. to me, not having to travel an alternate path was new language from donald trump in regards to vladimir putin. it was an implicit all that albeit thanking him for the gracious letter and that if things don't go well, there's an "or else"? >> yes, an to that. in some ways that makes sense. dealing with an adversary, in russia's case, a frenemy. sometimes you have a carrot but thieve stick in the background. a comment to nuclear weapons. no subtlety on those. my first reaction, this is from
the guy who stopped taking intelligence briefings. no president in u.s. history, democratic or republican, has invited a nuclear arms race, whether with russia, china, whoever it might be. no one has ever done. when you do that, it up sets your allies, undermines the nonproliferation regime and if implemented would actually increase the risk of nuclear war. >> donald trump has taken the classified security brief twice this week that we know of. he took it yesterday and he took it the day before, but you're correct. up to that point averaging about one a week. barbara starr, to you. this issue of strengthening and expanding the country's nuclear capabilities. we do know that modernizing the nuclear force has been something many presidents agreed on, but if talking about growing in numbers, that would be a change in policy. run counter to many treaties and military analysts say it's actually not what the country needs? >> reporter: that's a question you have to ask yourself.
do more nuclear weapons really add to the deterrent capability to be nonproliferation capability and influence of the united states? because, look, for the last 48 hours, 24 or so, it is not just russia and the u.s. engaging in this dialogue. this is being watched very closely by other nuclear powers. by china, by north korea. by iran. pakistan. india. all of the countries that may have very small nuclear arsenal but do have them, watched perhaps by terrorists groups very savvy on these matters and want to know exactly where the seams may be they could exploit in their effort to potentially get dirty bombs, potentially get radiological weapons. will there be more movement of this kind of materiel, because of the uncertainty? really, up until now, nuclear weapons arsenals have pretty much been locked down by treaty.
everybody's modernizing, people are talking about getting more, but really between the u.s. and russia, it's pretty much locked down by treaty limits, and now it does appear that mr. trump is at least willing, even if it's a negotiating ploy, willing to open it back up again. >> interesting. sean spicer, trying to help us understand what donald trump was saying, suggested that the president-elect is saying we just won't back down to anyone else who tries to make threats, or any other country that tries to grow or expand its nuclear force. well, you know, which countries are trying to do that? we know north korea is, beyond north korea, are there any countries that seem to be a growing imminent threat when it comes to their nuclear arsenal? >> in terms of the growth of nuclear arsenals, pakistan is the one growing at the fastest rate. still a relatively small number of nuclear weapons but its pace is increasing and you say what will india do in responses to
that? and there are conversations in china. china for years had a first use policy and called a minimum deterrent. only build minimum necessary. echoing barbara's point, in the nuclear world, more doesn't always mean better. the rebel just bounces and building more doesn't get you anywhere but the chinese are starting to reconsider that policy, reconsidering it. statements like this that say we're going to expand, bust through our limits and build more are comments watched very closely in beijing and islamabad. >> so, barbara, beyond nuclear weapons, when vladimir putin invites donald trump to enter into a relationship that will take things to a qualitatively new level, where in the world will we see the effects of that new relationship the most quickly? >> reporter: it's fair to say mr. putin is looking for an economic relationship. the russians want the economic sanctions lifted. the oil prices have fallen. their economy is suffering under
sanctions by all accounts. they want to get cash. so what they're looking for is an economic relationship with the u.s. and with the world state. the problem for the united states is, i think military commanders will tell you, they don't feel they can trust putin. he's not pulling out of crimea or eastern ukraine. definitely not pulling out of the middle east, of syria. this is where he wants russia to have influence. this is where vladimir putin wants russia to be back as a world power on the global stage, and he is succeeding at those goals in those places. so can you trust what vladimir putin says in terms of security, global security? a lot of people, i would think it's fair to say, are still very skeptical of that, and the question is, are you going to put all of that aside and give him what he wants on economic policy, on sanctions? >> jim, i want to give you the last word here and talk about the history of proposition when
it comes to language dealing with nuclear arms. something generations of diplomats, generations of u.s. officials, russian officials, world leaders, have been very careful with the type of language they used, and it may well be donald trump was being very careful when he tweeted that yesterday. and if he was, talk to me about the message received within the world of nuclear discussions? >> i don't think you should carry on nuclear doctrine development or diplomacy on twitter. there aren't enough characters to be able to communicate nuance. allies are nervous because they don't know how to interpret the comments and it gets our enemies thinking. my advice to the president-elect, wait 20 days, until you have a secretary of state, a national security team in place. you know, the people that will do the policy review to figure out what you want to do going forward, and then the carefully articulate it, so both friends and enemies know exactly what we mean.
nuclear weapons are important, and they are fundamental to our security. there is no reason to be sort of doing it off the top of your head. >> jim walsh, barbara starr, great to have you with us. have a great holiday, guys. >> happy holidays. up next, a quick and deadly ending for the manhunt in berlin in the man wanted for the berlin christmas attack. your insurance company won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, you won't have to worry about replacing your car because you'll get the full value back including depreciation. and if you have more than one liberty mutual policy, you qualify for a multi-policy discount, saving you money on your car and home coverage. call
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shot dead. our senior correspondent ben wedeman is in rome. how did this all go down, ben? >> reporter: as quite simple. 3:00 in the morning outside the train station in a working-class neighborhood of milan, this police patrol stopped a man they said was acting suspiciously. they asked for some form of identification. he shouted -- [ speaking in foreign language ] "police bastards" and pulled out a .24 caliber pistol and shot them hitting one of the police officers in the shoulder and then took cover behind a car. fortunately, one of the other police officers managed to get behind him and shoot him fatally in the chest. they found on his body afterwards train ticket stub s indicating he got from germany somehow to france, took a train
first in illy, stopping in turan, going to the main train station in milan before going to this train station. on his body he had several hundred euro and a small knife police say he did not have anybody with him at the time. now, the question is, what was he doing in that particular neighborhood of milan? he'd spent around four years in southern italy. three and a half of them in six separate prisons, because he set a refugee center on fire back in 2011. so clearly, he has contacts in this country. the question is, what was he going to do now that he was in italy? fortunately, the police put an end to that. john? >> fascinating. about 500 miles from where the attack took place in berlin. ben wedeman, thank you so much. we learned this morning, anis amri was on a list in germany one of the most dangerous people on the islamic
terror speck trouble. what does that mean? joined by terrorism analyst paul cruickshank. what can you tell us? >> that he was put on this list in march. nine months from the attack. known as the danger list in germany, the most dangerous islamist radicals and suspected islam is terrorists at the country's security services are facing. so they were well-aware he was a significant threat, and they were well-aware of that for a long time. and, of course, as we've been finding out from investigative files, one of the reasons they knew that was from a police ininformant who penetrated and was part of the network he belonged to. and was feeding a lot of information back to german investigators, including the file he wanted to launch an attack. >> how many people, paul, are on this most dangerous list? and is it so many they can't all be monitored?
seems if you're dangerous enough toish on the most dangerous list you're exactly the kind of person authorities would want to be on top of at all times? >> right now i'm told there be 549 individuals on this list in germany. which is not a massive number. and you would think that it's not impossible to put at least quite a fair degree of scrutiny on to most of these individuals. especially because my understanding is that some of those individuals are suspected to be with isis in syria and iraq. so the numbers were out there on the streets in germany is a somewhat smaller number, but clearly, they didn't put the total weight of investigator powers, manpow around so forth on to this guy during the period that he was out there operating in germany. i think one of the reasons for
that was likely they were focusing on the ringleaders of this recruitment network and made these five key arrests in november, paul, one other development. a video released by isis-friendly media of anis amri pledging allegiance to al baghdadi. explain the meanings this? >> new someone close to isis or how would he be able to upload it to them otherwise? it shows a deeper connection than just inspiration in this attack and that's not surprising, because the network he was part of had all sorts of ties back to isis in syria and iraq including communication. likely he would have uploaded this before the attack to isis, because he may not have thought he had an opportunity to do it afterwards. might have expected to die in that operation, in berlin which would mean isis had advance knowledge of this and waited until he sort of was killed to put it out. that sort of fits with the timing here. unfortunately, this is going to
be a propaganda win for isis. that's why they've been putting out instructions for recruits and sympathizers in the west to do exactly this. to put out videos or some kind of pledge to baghdadi on social media before and we've seen that happen's in a string of cases. >> paul, what's the latest on the investigation? seems now we have even more questions. right? i mean, who helped him get that video posted? was was he headed in italy? did anyone help him get from berlin to france, to italy? you know, and are there other people who may have been involved in a cell still operating inside germany? >> well, the reason he was in italy, one that he wanted to get shelter there from some contacts. two, he wanted to launch an attack against a country he has an animosity towards because he was imprisoned by them and three, get out of the middle east or north africa perhaps through the balkan route, which some far from milan. a hub for that.
in terms of this, the threat from this network moving forward, they're really concerned about that still that there are others close to him, around him, that may want to strike, inspired by what he has done. and we saw an arrest overnight in the northwest part of germany, and the authorities there are looking into whether two nationals were going to attack a major shopping mall in that region, and also a christmas market. that area was one of the areas where they were holding seminars, this proselytize nation network links to the per ly berlin attacker. there may well be a link between that plot and this but germans have yet to confirm that. >> just part of the investigation going on right now even after the death of this terrorist. paul crook schauickshank in lon.
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don't start a war you know you're going to lose. finally you can now find all of netflix in the same place as all your other entertainment. on xfinity x1. israel expects the united nations security council could vote on a resolution demanding an end to settlements and that vote could come this afternoon. this comes after president elesht trump wapged in saying the u.s. should veto the resolution. joining us now, cnn global affairs correspondent elise labott. what do we know about this vote? is it going to happen and how will the united states vote if
at all? >> reporter: well, john, we understand that it is going to happen at 2:00, the u.n. security council is going to convene. egypt, who introduced the resolution in the first place, withdrew it. now we understand new zealand, also been very involved in this, malaysia, venezuela, senegal, others who supported this resolution re-introduced it. i looked at text. seems to be exactly the same. controversial provisions that call israeli settlements a flagrant violation of international law. still in there. we understand that the u.s. is reviewing this new text, even though it's the same. they're being a little coy how they're going to vote. i think it really depends on what the conversations were overnight between israel, the u.s. and possibly the trump administration about what israel has been arguing nap a resolution of this nature is really going to tie the next president's hands in whatever he would want to do in a
negotiation between israel and palestinians. that's something president-elect trump said he would like to do, and that's why i think you saw the israelis reach out to the president-elect, say, listen, this could undermine anything you want to do when you come in the door, and you saw the president-elect get intimately involved in this yesterday. >> he did. in a very unusual way. also unusual here, virtually unprecedented, if the united states did not vote, israel's wishes did not veto this resolution that would break precedent. the united states has always stood by israel in this way in the u.n. security council nap would be very different. that said, the obama administration has been very clear how it feels about the expansion of settlements. >> reporter: right. we know that president obama was prepared to let this resolution pass yesterday. kind of a parting shot, not just to the israeli prime minister, netanyahu, who he had a very rocky relationship with, at best, but also to the policy of settlements. from his very first term the
issue of israeli settlements has always been an issue between israel and the united states, and so i think the administration did want to put its finger on the scale on these settlements, but you saw the reaction yesterday. not just from donald trump and from republicans in congress, and from the israelis, but also from democrats who did reach out to the administration and say, please don't do this. so whether the administration has changed its mind, whether it now will veto, i suspect that they might let it go ahead. it's been really hard. evan been in everybody's been in meeting this now now that it's introduced. highly unusual. not just the president-elect getting involved but also for a resolution to be introduced and taken out. it's really, a, real high drama at the u.n., you don't see that often. >> and about 90 minutes and a lot more to happen in the next 90 minutes. >> reporter: stay tuned. >> we don't know which way this is going to go. thank you very much. up next, is donald trump trying to escalate or is donald
trump trying to get the united states in a nuclear arms jace parsing the president-elect the words and policies, that's just ahead. thope to see you again soon.. whoa, whoa, i got this. just gotta get the check. almost there. i can't reach it. if you have alligator arms, you avoid picking up the check. what? it's what you do. i got this. thanks, dennis! if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. growwwlph. it's what you do. oh that is good crispy duck. all finished.umm... you wouldn't want your painter to quit part way.
this morning president-elect trump declared, let it be an arms race. dee clarifying other comments about expanding nuclear capabilities and hours ago, released a nice letter from vladimir putin, president of russia, offering warm holiday wishes and calling for cooperation. we have a lot to talk about today. bring in democratic strategist matt bennett, cnn political reporter, republican strategist alice stewart and editor and
chief of the hill bob kuzak. alice, let me start with you. if someone asked you what's donald trump's nuclear policy, how would you respond? >> clearly, he wants to remain strong. clearly the united states is the strongest in the world when it comes to nuclear capabilities, but he wants to maintain that status as the front-runner, and with regard to this, his statement yesterday in response to vladimir putin was simply to say, look, we are going to continue to focus on keeping our nuclear arsenal strong, and that was part of his policy as we will continue to see of peace through strength. and that's just the first step in a long process, and as this has continued to escalate with letters and tweets throughout the last 48 hours, he continues to show that he wants to remain strong with regard to russia and the world and specifically in terms of nuclear arms. >> i'm not sure there has been a u.s. president who did not want the united states to remain strong. i mean, that's a fairly consistent policy from one administration to the next, tos
sure. the question is, is he changing nuclear policy? is he calling on the united states to expand the number of nuclear weapons? that is unclear. we don't think so. at least his aides tell us that is not what he was saying. he was talking perhaps about strengthening the force, modernizing the force, but bob kuzak, this gets to the point of the limitations of twitter? where donald trump started this. right? where he started this conversation about nuclear weapons and left it open to interpretation and explanation from all of his aides. >> yes. i think that he's going to be continuing to use twitter, because he's gone after the media and blamed the media for not getting his message out. it does, there's only so much you can do in 140 characters on twitter. an interesting question you ask, john, about what his policy is, because he mentions this issue about an arms race and obviously since the cold war we've been trying to reduce nuclear weapons have enough to blow the earth over 1,000 times, but at the
same time he has this kind of bromance with putin. and i think this relationship is going to be one of the most fascinating story lines of 2017, and you know that trump has had good relationships with people like ted cruz and all of a sudden is goes sour. maybe this one could go sour? >> an unusual relationship and a relationship, matt that seems to have chinged -- not changed. developed, evolved, as many relationships to. this relationship evolved, over nuclear weapons, both countries want to strengthen, enhance nuclear capabilities and exchange of letters. vladimir putin wraunants to qualitatively change the relationship with the united states and looking to reframe bilateral relations. donald trump saying, yes, received a very nice letter but warns he hopes we don't have the to travel an alternate path. all of a sudden the president e
president-eselect setting parameters? >> maybe -- or maybe not. the tweet was intended to clarify a tweet from yesterday which didn't clarify anything at all. the problem with trump generally and with trump on twitter in particular. it's completely open to interpretation, what he's talking about. it doesn't seem often he know what's he's talking about, and we don't have any idea whether he was drawing a line in the sand for putin or whether he wasn't. it's just a complete mystery, and that's really going to be a problem going forward if he continues that as president. >> matt, there are people who are discussing and articles written in the "washington post" about this, this week, that maybe what donald trump is doing is to deliberately create a certain amount of uncertainty. when richard initiation didn't it, known as "the madman theory," make north vietnam think you might do anything so you're never quite show and enhances your negotiating position. is it possible he's trying to keep other nations on their toes
here, matt? >> i guess so, and he certainly has americans off balance. perhaps he has the russians off balance, too. although this one line in his response was the first time we've seen him say anything ever negative about putin. he has consistently denied that the 17 intelligence agencies who have concluded the russians were trying to get involved in our elections, he's always said, he says nice things about me i'm going to say nice things about him. he's responded in a narcissistic way to putin's flattery and never heard anything like this before and we don't know what to make of it now. >> alice, i was struck by that language. hoping we don't have to travel an alternate path, because it is different than what donald trump had to say about vladimir putin 16 months of the campaign and up to this point in the transition where he won't even acknowledge russia behind the hack into the dnc, something intelligence officials ale gre s all agreed ? >> clearly, words "alternate path" a sign he is willing to
take action if necessary, and, look, no one is mistaken reading between the lines of vladimir putin's letter that it was an attempt certainly to be friendly to donald trump, but also his desire to put the nuclear weapons conversation on the table and get a response from donald trump, and that's exactly what he did. donald trump made it quite clear that he hopes for the same thing. he hopes that there are peaceful relations moving forward, but if not, he made it quite clear he's willing to take an alternate path, which we -- no decision right now what that would mean, but it's clear he's not going to be a doormat for vladimir putin like a lot of people have been saying all along. i think that, as i have said, when someone is a threat to him as i learned with ted cruz, when someone's a threat to him, he punches back. we might be beginning to see the first steps of that with putin. >> we'll see on that. bob kuzak, let me ask you about what's going on with the current white house, the future without and the israel relations.
a number of developments over the last 24 hours. security council going to vote condemning settlements and now pulled back. now they'll vote in less than two hours on israeli settlements and don't know if the current white house will veto that, get in the way of this resolution, or not . in israel, saying the united states is behind the whole thing accusing the u.s. of shameful activity. this is an unusual place for an outgoing administration to be. trying to make a statement this big potentially on its way out? >> yes. and this has been a bone of contention for years, hillary clinton in 2010 criticized israel for the settlements. so did joeed biden in 2010 as l as this year. as far as israel contacting the trump administration, you mentioned, the obama, what they'll do on its way out on a
very, very riveting vote is very interesting. netanyahu is, as he says, a friend of trump. and we're going to see different policies coming from the trump administration on isle than we did from the obama administration. >> matt bennett, one president at a time. that's the classic phrase. for the president-elect to get involved and lobby egypt and get involved with a public statement is unusual. not what you see in a normal transition. equally unusual is, though what would be a break from tradition for the united states at the united nations with just 28 days left to go in the administration? >> well, unusual maybe, but not totally unprecedented. the bush administration abstained six times on u.n. resolutions riticcal of israel. not like we've never seen this before, and the obama administration from the beginning, bob points out, has been very, very clear about its position relating to the settlements. what this resolution is about. so it wouldn't be a total break.
but to your point about one president at a time, we have never seen anything like this having the president-elect making foreign policy and intervening in real, realtime foreign policy questions before their sworn in. >> right. matt, alice, bob, thanks for being with us. great to see you. >> thausnk you. >> merry christmas. with no surprise overages, you can use your data worry free and even carry over the data you don't use. and right now get four lines and 20 gigs for only $40 per line. you'll even get the iphone 7, the samsung galaxy s7, the pixel phone by google, or the motoz droid absolutely free. hurry, these offers end soon. get the best deals and the best network, only on verizon.
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right now. we heard from the prime minister earlier today saying that when security forces were able to go onboard the plane, they found a grenade, they found a couple of pistols and right now are interrogating those two hijackers. at a press conference, asked what were the motives? he said they don't know yet. they said they weren't going to negotiate with these two hijackers until everyone was off the plane and surrender to authorities. this plane took out of in southern libya going to tripoli. it was high jackethigh jacketed. 111 passengers were held hostage and eventually we saw some let go. first women and children. and then men, until it was just left with the hijackers and the crew of the plane. at one point, though, we did see one of the hijackers leave the plane and wave a green flag. now that is the flag of the
former libyan leader moammar gadhafi, ousted in 2011. that might be a hint of maybe some of the motivation behind this hijacking, but right now we're waiting to hear from the maltese government about what drove these men to hijack that plane, john. >> of course, good news. everyone safe. in london, thanks so much. reporting on the u.n. security council voting perhaps on a resolution today condemning israeli settlements. reporting that president-elect donald trump got himself involved in this in the last 24 hours, and this is counter to a tradition in american transitions where people say there's only one president at a time. let's talk about this now. joining us, historian professor's princeton university julian zelzner. one president at a time, something generally speaking most president-elects who come into this transition all declare right at the outset. why is it important? >> it's important so that there's clarity on who the leader is, and where the
policies are coming from. so what we have now is a situation where if you're overseas and the leader of another country, you're getting mixed signals on some issues about what u.s. policy is. and so that could create tension. and it could create dangerous situations. >> it's interesting, because particularly we were talking about israel here. donald trump's opinion on these subjects is no mystery. right? we know exactly where he stands on settlements, for instance. he's nominated an ambassador extremely pro and we know also where president obama stands on this. what's wrong with stating your well-known view, even if counter to the current administration? >> it's true views are stated. in 1980 people knew reagan was unhappy how jimmy carter was handling the hostages in iran. and that was not a secret what his position were, more hawkish in terms how to handle it. here in part with twitter and part the ease through which president-elect trump were
communicate, it becomes more confusing about where american policy is going, not just what it is in between these two leaders. >> interesting here. there's another player in this drama, too, which is israel. israel trying to exploit, perhaps, the transition. not getting what it wanted from the current white house. deciding to call the president-elect to get him involved. >> that's not unusual. to have countries overseas trying to figure out the politics of the united states. we saw that in 1968 with vietnam and the transition from johnson to nixon. we saw it with reagan, carter on iran. that's what countries overseas do. but, again, the lack of clarity about what the leadership is here in the united states right now, because of the constant vocal nature of president-elect trump, i think creating more ambiguitiy and very different views on this issue. >> no question. it's unusual. it's unusual, people use the word unprecedented. virtually unprecedented's haven't seen this type of thing
before. >> right. >> likewise, we don't know what's going to happen, the vote scheduled for an hour or so from now. yesterday cancelled. we don't know how the u.s. will vote. whether it will veto it, about staabout -- abstain or voice support for the idea of condemning israeli settlements, but if the united states doesn't veto it, if it supports the condemnation of settlements that would be a shift in policy at the united nations, shall we say. not standing beside israel at the united nation would be a big difference from what we've seen in the past. how unusual is it to see a departure from precedent for an administration in its closing days? >> i'm trying to think on the spot, and i can't think of one that would be this dramatic. of course, president obama's not switching his positions. he's been very vocal against this, and so there's a consistency. but changing the position at the u.n. would be a difference. a dramatic one. part of this is the transition.
i'm sure the administration is trying to anticipate where this is going to go in the trump administration. >> and it really is interesting. right? because what it's doing is stating the u.s. position, but it's only the u.s. position today. it won't be the u.s. position on january 21st. >> right. and president-elect trump through his appointments has made clear this is not what he will support. so this is a very short time span, and, look, a lot of the things that president obama has fought for right now might be in a moment of transition, from the iran nuclear deal to the paris climate change agreement, to this. so i think he's trying to make a statement in the closing days, rather than cementing policy. >> making a statement, interesting way of phrasing it. yes, breaking precedent at the united nations, but it isn't different than what his stated policy is. he, in some ways, is trying to lay down a lot of markers in these closing weeks? >> i think the obama administration fundamentally believes intensification of
settlement is actually not in the interests of israel you and there's a concern i think that's what the signal the trump administration is gol going to send. he is trying to send a signal to israelis as well, don't go down this route. >> and a signal how he feels. laid out a marker, i just want history to know this is where i stand on this. >> yes. >> likewise with the end-seers program, a program created to monitor immigrants from largely muslim countries to the united states. it was dormant. yesterday we learned the white house was getting rid of it all together pnegligible account. it's not my program he'll be using, because i'm getting rid of my program? >> the practical effect, actually make president-elect trump start a new program rather than make the excuse i have a registry in effect. put it in place. used it before. i'm going to keep using it.
now he has to start something new and the politics is very different. this is one of the most controversial issues from the campaign. from donald trump. i think here the president also wants to take away a tool and force him to go to the shop and build his own system, if he's going to use this. >> all right. professor julian from princeton university. a very, very busy day for the day before the day before christmas all of a sudden. thanks for being with us, appreciate it. president-elect trump just release add letter received from the russian president vladimir putin. what does it reveal about the relationship between the two men? between the two countries? details, right after a quick break. when a cold calls... achoo! ...answer it. with zicam cold remedy. it shortens colds, so you get better, faster. colds are gonna call. answer them with zicam! zicam. get your better back. now in great tasting crystals. and for fast acting nasal relief,
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i'm jim acosta. 1:00 p.m. here in washington. 8:00 p.m. in jerusalem and 9:00 p.m. in moscow. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us. we start with a new and complex chapter in u.s. and russian relation. a few hours ago donald trump release add letter received from russian president vladimir putin. the letter dated december 15th and putin writes, put it on-screen. i hope ah after you assume the position of president we will be able acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner take steps to restore the framework of